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Silver lining of early season injuries sheds light on Brad Stevens’ approach to resting players late in season 03.22.17 at 7:18 pm ET
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Mar 20, 2017; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics guard Avery Bradley (0) controls the ball while Washington Wizards forward Otto Porter Jr. (22) defends during the second half at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

A healthy Avery Bradley has been getting back to form since his return from a sore Achilles. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

If there’s one dividend from the early season injury bug that the Celtics are cashing in on now it’s rest.

Specifically, it’s the rest players like Avery Bradley, Kelly Olynyk, Al Horford and Jae Crowder were able to gain as the rest of the league was going through the grind. 

Every year, there’s intense debate as to what to do at the league level to discourage teams from resting their players at the end of the season as playoff-bound teams prep their star players for the postseason.

This was brought to a head on March 11 in San Antonio when, on a nationally televised game, the Warriors sat Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala. Kevin Durant was already sitting with his left knee injury. The Spurs rested Kawhi Leonard, Tony Parker and LaMarcus Aldridge. 

What’s Stevens’ take?

“I understand the discussion and certainly we’re all sensitive to the fact that somebody is going to watch a game in TD Garden for the first time tonight,” Stevens said before Wednesday’s game against Indiana. “That’s why I don’t know if this is fortunate or unfortunate, probably more unfortunate because you never want to have injuries, but we had a lot of injuries so we got rest because we had to get rest. 

“I do think in the last week of the season it is a little bit different. But I also understand as each team goes about it to try and best set themselves up for the postseason, the idea and opportunities to get rest. I’m hopeful, like everybody else, that the extra week in the season can appropriately handle some of those things but there are some really tough stretches in this and it is difficult. You just have to try to manage those as well as you can. 

“If some team chooses to rest their players then I understand it has to be a discussion but I understand why they do it.”

To mitigate some of the schedule grind to make it easier on players, the NBA shortened the preseason, adding a week to the schedule to spread out more games. Still, teams like the Celtics still faced a huge challenge.

“We knew going into the year, and I think this is probably what a lot of teams do, they look at the schedule,” Stevens said. “We knew December was going to be a monster and on Dec. 30 we were going to play six games in nine days and then we knew early February the West Coast trip coming back, All-Star break, Toronto, Detroit, back, West Coast trip again, you knew that was going to be really tough. You just kind of know that in advance and try to plan for it the best way you can. But again, some of our decisions were alleviated by the fact that we didn’t have guys available because of injuries. Again, I understand why teams do it but I understand the dilemma.”

Jae Crowder entered Wednesday’s game shooting 39.7 percent from beyond the arc. He has taken 605 shots, 340 from long range. That figures to 56 percent of his overall shots from long range. 

“If they’re all open, whatever, right? And even if they’re lightly challenged, he’s a really good 3-point shooter,” Stevens said. “You look across the league at guys that do what he does, that’s pretty typical. I think that’s something that’s a great testament to him, that he can continue to be as consistent as he’s being, shooting that percentage and shooting as high of a percentage with that volume.” 

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens, Indiana Pacers, Isaiah Thomas
Brad Stevens says Isaiah Thomas is ‘good to go’ for return against Wizards 03.20.17 at 6:34 pm ET
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Isaiah Thomas dribbles as Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal (3) looks on. (Brad Mills/USA Today Sports)

Isaiah Thomas dribbles as Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal (3) looks on. (Brad Mills/USA Today Sports)

After missing the last two games with a bruised right knee, Isaiah Thomas has been cleared to return against the Wizards. 

The Celtics All-Star point guard injured the knee in last Wednesday’s win over the Timberwolves and missed Friday’s win in Brooklyn and Sunday’s loss in Philadelphia. 

“Yep,” was Brad Stevens one-word answer in the affirmative when asked if the guard would be back in the lineup against a Washington team that is 1.5 games behind the Celtics in the race for the No. 2 spot in the East. 

Stevens said Thomas received plenty of treatment for the bruised knee over the weekend, making the most of time away playing. 

“Feeling a lot better,” Stevens said. “I think all the treatment over the weekend, which he had a ton of, was all positive. He’s good to go.”

Thomas sounded a bit more cautious, admitting that he wasn’t at full strength yet, “but I’m good enough.” 

Then he added, “I can’t sit this one out. I know what’s at stake. I know it’s a big game for us.” 

Stevens added that he doesn’t anticipate a minutes restriction for Thomas, who leads the team in playing time at 34.1 minutes a game. 

“I don’t think so,” Stevens said. “I haven’t heard that from the training staff. Usually, the minutes restriction is as much to do [with] extended periods of time as anything else.”

Stevens was asked if he could tell Thomas was ready based on the team’s walkthrough Monday.

“Well, our walkthrough happened at about 4:45 [p.m.] and it was a WALK through so I think he looked great,” Stevens said. “But I have no idea how that translates to playing in a stance or running up and down the floor but I’ve been told he’s fine.”

On the importance of holding off Washington for the second seed in the East. 

“I think it’s about playing good basketball,” Stevens said. “That stuff sorts itself out. Obviously, you want to be as good of a seed as you can. There’s no question about that. Again, I’d like to have some healthy games here to play good basketball and see if we can’t figure ourselves out as we head into the next month, plus.” 

Monday’s game is the opener of a season-long six-game home stand. Entering Monday, the Wizards and Pacers (Wednesday) were the only team with a winning record of the six teams. Much has been made of the newly-created rivalry in the media between the Celtics and Wizards, featuring Isaiah Thomas and John Wall. A battle for playoff position only fuels it. 

“My focus is on playing good basketball,” Stevens said. “When I think of rivalries, I think of years upon years upon years in the making. Certainly, we have a great deal of respect for how good these guys are. And that’s that. But we’ve got to focus on trying to do our best to play as well as we can against them, which means a lot of the focus has to be on what we’re trying to accomplish, and they’re going to be doing the same on their end. 

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens, Bradley Beal, Isaiah Thomas
Were Celtics that good or Bulls that bad? Mike Petraglia, Josue Pavon discuss Sunday’s romp 03.12.17 at 7:19 pm ET
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Was Sunday more about the Celtics looting great or Dwyane Wade, Rajon Rondo and the Bulls looking awful? Mike Petraglia and Josue Pavon discuss inside TD Garden.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, Josue Pavon, Mike Petraglia
Isaiah Thomas appears upset with Celtics coaching staff following stunning loss to Clippers 03.07.17 at 7:58 am ET
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Isaiah Thomas was upset following the Celtics' loss Monday night. (Gary A. Vasquez/USA Today Sports)

Isaiah Thomas was upset following the Celtics’ loss Monday night. (Gary A. Vasquez/USA Today Sports)

The Celtics led by 13 points late in the third quarter Monday night against the Clippers and appeared well on their way to avenging their last-second loss to the Suns the day before.

But, the Clippers then went on a 43-14 run and the Celtics ended up by losing the game, 116-102.

It was their second straight loss.

Click here for a full box score.

After the game, Isaiah Thomas appeared very upset and frustrated.

“We should have won this game,” Thomas told reporters. “We should have won [Sunday] night [in Phoenix]. We can’t be experimenting in Game 63.”

Thomas is likely referring to the lineup the Celtics rolled out late in the third quarter of  Terry Rozier, Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, James Young and Jordan Mickey. These players hadn’t played together much, if at all this season.

“It’s just the way we lost tonight was unacceptable,” Thomas said. “We lost the game in the last 15 minutes of the game. We played a really good game up until the last 15 minutes. And that’s the players’ fault, the coaches’ fault, that’s everybody in this locker room’s fault. We could have done a lot better.”

Tuesday is an off day with the team then taking on the Warriors Wednesday night.

Read More: Isaiah Thomas,
Celtics reportedly talking with Pacers on Paul George, Nets pick in play 02.23.17 at 12:11 pm ET
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The Celtics and Pacers reportedly are discussing a trade for Paul George. (Brian Spurlock/USA Today Sports)

The Celtics and Pacers reportedly are discussing a trade for Paul George. (Brian Spurlock/USA Today Sports)

With just under three hours left until the NBA trade deadline, the Celtics appear to be pushing for Paul George.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical, the Celtics and Pacers have had preliminary talks on George. The report says the Celtics hasn’t met Indiana’s asking price, but the Nets pick has entered the conversation.

George is averaging 22.3 points per game and is signed through the end of the 2018-19 season.

It is worth noting, according to ESPN’s Zach Lowe, the Celtics have put the 2017 Nets pick into the offer for George.  This pick will likely be in the top four, but could get as high as the No. 1 overall pick. Of course the Celtics will need to add more, but this would be a big starting point.

Stay turned for more as the day goes on.

For more Celtics news, visit weei.com/celtics.

Read More: Paul George,
Celtics reportedly are ‘zeroed in’ on Jimmy Butler, Paul George 02.21.17 at 11:32 am ET
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Could Jimmy Butler be coming to Boston? (Dennis Wierzbicki/USA Today Sports)

Could Jimmy Butler be coming to Boston? (Dennis Wierzbicki/USA Today Sports)

The NBA trade deadline is fast approaching and it appears the Celtics have identified their main targets.

In a piece for ESPN.com, Zach Lowe notes the Celtics are “zeroed in” on both Jimmy Butler and Paul George. This isn’t much of a surprise considering these two players are two of the biggest stars potentially available.

Butler is averaging 24.5 points per game with the Bulls this season, while George is averaging 22.3 points per game with the Pacers. Either of these players could be the piece the Celtics need to take them to the next level.

Lowe also notes the Celtics have talked to the Clippers “intermittently” about a trade for Blake Griffin, but said a deal between the two teams is “extremely unlikely.”

Stay tuned as the trade deadline is set for Thursday and a lot will happen between now and then.

For more Celtics news, visit weei.com/celtics.

Read More: blake griffin, Jimmy Butler, Paul George,
Report: Celtics did not try to acquire DeMarcus Cousins on Sunday 02.19.17 at 11:43 pm ET
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The Celtics reportedly did not try and land DeMarcus Cousins on Sunday. (Kirby Lee/USA Today Sports)

The Celtics reportedly did not try and land DeMarcus Cousins on Sunday. (Kirby Lee/USA Today Sports)

It was an eventful Sunday with DeMarcus Cousins and ended with him being traded.

According to Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojanarowski, the Kings were fully engaged in trade talks centered on Cousins throughout the day.

Some thought the Celtics could have been one of those teams, considering the assets they have, but that was not the case. The Celtics were not one of the teams speaking with the Kings on Sunday about a potential Cousins deal, according to the Boston Herald’s Steve Bulpett.

Wojanarowski reports the Lakers were turned down by the Kings and late Sunday night the Kings agreed to trade Cousins to the Pelicans in a deal that includes Buddy Hield and a 2017 first-round pick.

Even though it doesn’t look like the Celtics were in on Cousins, they still likely will try and make a trade before Thursday’s trade deadline.

For more Celtics news, visit weei.com/celtics.

Read More: DeMarcus Cousins,
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